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Thursday, February 22, 2018, 07:48 (GMT+7)
Eternal vitality of the Communist Manifesto

170 years ago, on behalf of communists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels announced the immortal “Communist Manifesto” which included their thought and goals. It immediately became the common political platform of international communist and worker movement and the lodestar for the global revolution. Many years have elapsed, but the Communist Manifesto still remains valuable today.

1. The Communist Manifesto affirms the birth and ripeness of Marxism. It was the fruit of scientific researches combined with studies and surveys of working class across the Europe in the mid-twentieth century carried out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Basic principles mentioned in the Manifesto marked changes in thought and standpoint during the ideological and theoretical struggle: from idealism to materialism; from their standpoint of revolutionary democracy to the communist standpoint. In the Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels confirmed that “The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer”. By means of dialectical and historical materialism viewpoints, Marx and Engels convincingly interpreted and explained production, social structure, and class struggle to formulate the revolutionary platform for the working class.

The birth of Marxism was affirmed in the Manifesto’s central ideology. In its preface to the 1883 German Edition, Friedrich Engels stated: “The basic thought running through the Manifesto – that economic production, and the structure of society of every historical epoch necessarily arising therefrom, constitute the foundation for the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently (ever since the dissolution of the primaeval communal ownership of land) all history has been a history of class struggles, of struggles between exploited and exploiting, between dominated and dominating classes at various stages of social evolution; that this struggle, however, has now reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class (the proletariat) can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppresses it (the bourgeoisie), without at the same time forever freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression, class struggles – this basic thought belongs solely and exclusively to Marx”.

2. Eternal vitality of the basic principles in the Communist Manifesto. Its basic and directive thought was analyzed and interpreted by a series of general principles reflecting the development rules of history. First, the principle on the role and historic mission of the working class. Employing the dialectical and historical materialism method, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels analyzed the issues related to classes and class struggle in the capitalist society, while clarifying the historic mission of the working class worldwide which was wiping out capitalism and creating a new society - socialist society and then communist society without classes. Analyzing the capitalist mode of production since its inception and during its process of development, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels pointed out: on the one hand, the bourgeoisie, “historically, has played a most revolutionary part”; “It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about”. “The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together”. On the other hand, besides the development of these massive productive forces, the fundamental contradiction within the capitalist mode of production became more intense, which was between the increasingly socialized force of production and the relations of production based on capitalist private property. Pursuing profit, moulding the market, and exploiting workers to the full led to an ending: “The bourgeoisie has not only forged the weapons which will kill them; it has also produced the men who carry these weapons - modern workers, the proletariat”.

Famous theoretical point in the Manifesto: “The fall of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” represented the conclusion drawn from the principle on the historic mission of the working class globally. Currently, in spite of changes in quantity, quality and structure of the working class all over the world, that principle mentioned in the Manifesto still retains its values.

Second, the principle on relationship between working class and Communist Party. In the Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels not only referred to the historic mission of the working class, but also scientifically interpreted the relationship between the working class and Communist Party, specifying that the working class could fulfil its historic mission only when it was under the leadership of a true Communist Party. The relationship between Communist Party and working class was interpreted by Marx and Engels first and foremost in terms of relationship of interests: “The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement”. According to the Manifesto: “The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole”. It was the penetration of Marxist thought into the working-class movement that shifted it from spontaneous one to conscious one, thereby leading to the inception of communist parties in Europe. The principle on the relationship between Communist Party and working class became the theoretical background and methodology for communists worldwide to properly apply and flexibly develop during the process of forming and building their Communist Party.

Third, the principle in management of the relationships between class, nation, and the international. Proletarian goal and ideal was: “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. To achieve that noble goal, right in the proletarian revolution, communists had to properly manage the relationships between class, nation and the international. In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels stated: “the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation”. That thought expressed the principle: working class must represent national interests; the fight for class liberation must be associated with national liberation. The reason was that “In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end”. Moreover, in the relationship between nation and the international, the proletariat represents not only the interests of each nation but also the interests of the entire human race. The struggle of the proletariat should and must be put under the flag of the proletariat internationalism. The saying: “In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another will also be put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end too” in the Manifesto demonstrated Marx and Engels’ direction for proper management of the relationship between nation and the international.

Fourth, the principle on the road and method to carry out a revolution for the sake of ultimate goal. The Manifesto generalized about the principle on constant revolution via steps and tasks for working class and Communist Party; in which “the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”. When becoming the ruling class, the working class must “use its political supremacy to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible”. According to the principle, it is necessary to conduct constant revolution and take every step towards the ultimate goal. That is also the principle’s durable value which does not mechanically depend on detailed revolutionary solutions mentioned in the Manifesto. Affirming the general principles in the Manifesto, we must be fully aware of the theoretical point raised by Marx and Engels 25 years after that immortal Manifesto: “However much that state of things may have altered during the last twenty-five years, the general principles laid down in the Manifesto are, on the whole, as correct today as ever. Here and there, some detail might be improved”. Thus, it is inevitable that there should be supplementation, development and flexible application of the Manifesto’s principles in particular and Marxism in general.

3. The Manifesto and current age and Vietnam’s renewal cause. Realities of the revolution worldwide have proved the significance of the Manifesto as a lodestar and marker for epoch. In light of the Manifesto, the Paris Commune (1871) - the world’s first proletarian revolution - took place. The working-class government in the revolution existed for only 72 days but provided invaluable lessons. The victory of the Russian October Revolution (1917) ushered in a new age which was the transition from capitalism to socialism across the globe. After the October Revolution, the development of national liberation movement in tandem with that of movements for democracy, progress and peace proved the Manifesto’s value, vitality and epoch-making significance.

The collapse of the socialist regime in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is a big loss to the international communist and worker movement. However, it is impossible to consider that as the ending of “communist experiments”. It was only the collapse of a socialist model. True marxists made objective, candid evaluation of the reasons for that collapse. Amidst the chief reasons was that communist parties in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe did not adhere to the basic principles of Marxism and the Manifesto as well, especially when formulating the model and road to achieving the goals.

The Manifesto’s value, vitality and epochal significance are still affirmed by revolutions in the remaining socialist countries. Achievements in national reform in China and Vietnam, Cuba’s firm development against hostile embargoes, and left-wing movements in Latin America have proved the influential and epoch-making significance of the Manifesto.

The Communist Party of Vietnam, founded, trained and led by President Ho Chi Minh, has always thoroughly understood the Manifesto’s scientific and revolutionary values and flexibly applied it to laying down revolutionary guidelines and methods in accordance with Vietnam’s condition. Thanks to flexible application of principles on proletarian revolution in the Manifesto in particularly and Marxism in general, Vietnam performed miracles in the people’s democratic national revolution, gaining national independence, unifying the country. The Manifesto’s scientific thought and revolutionary have also been flexibly applied in the cause of national reform under the socialist direction. The most specific and notable manifestations are fundamental points mentioned in the Party’s Platform on national construction from the transitional period to socialism (in 1991, supplemented and developed in 2011). The Manifesto’s scientific value has provided our Party with sound basis and methodology to develop theory and review realities, thereby giving us a clearer understanding about socialism and the road to socialism in our country.

The cause of national renewal in more than 30 years gained impressive and historic achievements including those in renovation of awareness and theory towards socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam. However, to comprehensively, synchronously accelerate national reform, the 12th National Party Congress requires “continuing to theoretical thought, clarify the basis for theory and practice, complete the system of viewpoints on socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam”; at the same time, it is vital to ensure that the great thought of the Communist Manifesto will continue to be the lodestar for the cause of national renewal under the socialist direction.

Prof. Le Huu Nghia, PhD, Former President of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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